Monday, December 23, 2013

Loving Them Both

Editor's Note #1: Today's guest post is by Sarah Terzo of
Editor's Note #2: This is our 1000th article since we moved to the Blogger platform many moons ago. Thank you to our readers for allowing us to reach this milestone!
Editor's Note #3: Due to the drop in web traffic that occurs during the holiday season, the blog will be on hiatus for a few days. Whatever you celebrate, Secular Pro-Life wishes you a happy time with your loved ones. Safe travels.
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In an article in the American Medical News (Diane M Gianelli, “Abortion Providers Share Inner Conflicts,” American Medical News, July 12, 1993), a counselor at a Dallas abortion clinic talked about how she deals with the stress of doing her job. In her own words:
This may sound like repression: however, it does work for me. When I find myself identifying with the fetus, and I think the larger it gets, that’s normal… then I think it’s okay to consciously decide to remind ourselves to identify with the woman. The external criteria of viability really isn’t what it’s about. It’s an unwanted pregnancy and that’s the bottom line.
This clinic worker is struggling with her conscience. Deep down, I suspect that she knows that the “fetuses” her clinic aborts are actually babies. You don’t “identify with” tissue, products of conception, or collections of cells. You identify with human beings. This clinic worker is struggling to silence her conscience, which tells her that these babies are more than just tissue or uterine growths. They are people. As the developing child grows bigger and begins to look more and more like a newborn, it becomes harder and harder to deny his or her humanity. This forces the clinic worker to rationalize what she is involved in. In order to cope, she blocks out the reality of the child and focuses only on the woman as her patient, making the woman her only concern.

Pro-choice arguments almost always focus solely on the woman involved in the pregnancy. The baby is completely disregarded.

The pro-life movement, on the other hand, is at its best when pro-lifers are concerned about both the child and the mother. Groups like Silent No More and countless postabortion support groups and organizations exist to help women cope with their past abortions. Crisis pregnancy centers, which outnumber abortion clinics, help women through their pregnancies and try to meet their needs. More and more, it’s becoming clear that women are physically and psychologically harmed by abortion. In opposing abortion, pro-lifers are not simply helping the baby – they are helping the mother as well. It is important that we do not deny that there are two people involved in each pregnancy – the woman, and her unborn baby. Both are important. Both require our support and compassion.

Focusing on only one person at the expense of the other should never be a tactic of the pro-life movement. It is important that we never allow ourselves to see only the baby and disregard the woman who also needs our help and support. It is of course the baby whose life is at stake – but the woman obviously has a pivotal role and should never be forgotten.

Pro-lifers are here to support both people involved in the pregnancy. We don’t exclude either one from our help and care.


Anton said...

More and more, it’s becoming clear that women are physically and psychologically harmed by abortion.

That's why it should be their choice. I'm probably like most pro-choicers in that I'd rather that every woman who gets pregnant is ready and willing to have a child. But life isn't as simple as that. And it's not as simple as saying that a woman's problems will just disappear if she decides to bring a pregnancy to term.

I'd like to see a lot more compassion for young women in our society, and respect for their personhood and potential. I'm afraid that, despite the kind words in this article, the pro-life perspective tends to de-emphasize the woman's role.

Vita said...

That does not answer my question. To rephrase my question it is: Should a woman be given all the scientific information about the physical or psychological harm caused by abortion?

Secondly an abortion does not prevent an unwanted pregnancy it ends a unique human life.

Thirdly what evidence do you have to support your opinion that childbirth and pregnancy are more traumatic than abortion?

Evidence cited in this article: A higher suicide rate among mothers who had abortions compared to mothers who had children. Two studies in Finland show six to seven times the rate of suicides among mothers who have aborted their children in the past year compared to mothers who have delivered a child to term. Other studies also show a higher rate of suicide and suicidal thoughts among mothers who have had an abortion.

someone45 said...

I know at least in my state a woman is given an information package she has to read about abortion. Also I think most women understand that an abortion has potential to cause harm to her, but so does pregnancy and child birth.

To answer your third point I can just tell you what I have seen from women I know who have had abortions and how it would be for me.

Spending nine months miserable would be 1000 times worse than spending a day or two in slight discomfort while having an abortion. Both abortion and child birth/pregnancy can have risks to the woman's well being. It should be up to her which one of the risks she is willing to take.

LN said...

You're ignoring the psychological side effects that often come later down the road when women realize they killed a living human being (their child). Why do you think the psych stats are worse for women who have had abortions...?

someone45 said...

You seem to think that every woman who has had an abortion will regret it. It is not that way.

Maybe the psych stats are worse for women who have had abortions because anti-choicers love to guilt trip them about how the embryo/fetus's potential life was more important than her ( the woman who had the abortion) life...

Vita said...

Potential life is scientifically inaccurate. A unique human life begins at fertilization.

someone45 said...

The embryo/fetus cannot survive outside the woman's body. It does not have its own life yet since it is 100% dependent on the use of the woman's body.

argent said...

I think it's important to remember that abortion is not an exercise of power by women with physical and social power against children with none, it is the inevitable result of a misogynist society. Stigmatize the consensual choices of adults, and the result is nonconsensual choices against children.

LN said...

"Biologically speaking, fertilization (or conception) is the beginning of human development...The result is a single-cell embryo called a zygote, meaning "yoked or joined together," and it is the first cell of the human body."


A human being is an individual organism, i.e. a unique *living* system. A zygote, as the quote above states, is the first stage of a unique human being's (organism's) development. [Note: "Human being" is not the same thing as a "human cell". A human being is composed of human cells, but a human cell isn't necessarily a unique organism. That is why while a sperm is a human cell, it's not an organism; a zygote is.]

An embryo is capable of response to stimuli, reproduction, growth and development, and maintenance of homeostasis as a stable whole, which is what is required to be considered an organism. And an organism is a living entity.

A life isn't defined by independence. See the blog about the conjoined twins-- they are each dependent on another's body for survival, yet they are clearly alive. The same is true of a zygote.

Furthermore if it's not a living cell, it must be a dead one. But it makes no sense to say that two living gametes (egg and sperm -- clearly alive) come together to make something dead. No, they come together and make a new living cell.

This is really just basic biology.

LN said...

"You seem to think that every woman who has had an abortion will regret it."

Where did I say that? I said the psych stats are worse for women who have abortions. If you know anything about stats, you know that means that more women who have abortions will suffer these side effects than women who do not. That's not the same as saying, "every woman who has an abortion has these side effects," not even close.

someone45 said...

Yes an embryo/fetus is alive but it does not have its own unique life and its development should never be placed above the pregnant woman.

Human development begins at fertilization but human life does not begin there.

Vita said...

It is not necessarily true that an embryo/fetus cannot survive outside his/her mothers body. The earliest born children who have survived were born at 21 weeks of pregnancy. That is extremely premature. Some fetuses therefore could survive outside of his/her mother's womb.

someone45 said...

Yes some can survive outside the woman's body but a first trimester embryo/fetus will never survive outside of the woman's body and that is when most abortions are performed.

Vita said...

So you agree that late term abortions should not occur after a child can survive on his/her own? At what stage should the life of the fetus be protected?

Vita said...

How can being alive not mean having a unique life? This life is not part of a woman obviously as s/he has unique DNA. That which lacks human life cannot have human development.

someone45 said...

I would find it acceptable if abortions were not allowed after the fetus was considered viable, unless it was done to save the life of the pregnant woman or for a true fetal defect. ( I am referring to something that would only allow the baby to survive for days or months at most outside the woman's body)

LN said...

Scientifically, unique life = unique DNA. So yes, it does have its own unique life.

"Human development begins at fertilization but human life does not begin there."

Let me reiterate since you didn't absorb.

A zygote is human. You *just* conceded that point ("Human development begins at fertilization").

A zygote is also alive. You also conceded that point ("Yes an embryo/fetus is alive").

So it's human...and alive. And now you're trying to say it's not a human life. You 100% just contradicted yourself.

someone45 said...

It is a developing human. If carried to term it will become a viable human. At the point of almost all abortions it is not a fully developed human.

LN said...

That in no way negates what I said. The fact that it's still developing doesn't mean it's not a human life; in fact that *necessitates* that it IS a human life. You can't develop unless you're alive.

someone45 said...

Its development is 100% dependent on someone else sacrificing their mental, emotional, physical, and financial well being to sustain its existence.

There is no other time when you can force someone else to use their body against their will to sustain the existence of someone else. Women should have the right to decide if they remain pregnant or not.

LN said...

Being dependent doesn't mean you're not alive, unique, or human though. That's scientifically inaccurate. Being dependent doesn't negate your humanity.

This is you.
"It's not alive."
"Well it's not unique."
"Well it's not a human life."
"Well it's dependent."

You're just jumping from claim to claim, seemingly with no actual points to be made much less data to back it up.

someone45 said...

I have always said it is not a unique fully developed human life and I have always said it is 100% dependent on the pregnant woman's body to live. I've never said them all together at once but I have always maintained that an embryo/fetus is not a fully developed human that can survive without the woman's uterus.

LN said...

"I have always said it is not a unique fully developed human life"

The only thing true in that statement is that it's not fully developed. Why add in the "unique and "human life"? It's just disingenuous.

LN said...

That link you provided is laughable. Here are some reasons why:

"Keep in mind that this page does not claim that there is no life at conception. The fact is that 30 percent +/- of all conceptions will become babies. So there is life at conception, it just does not start at conception."

...there's life at conception...but it does not start at conception...that makes NO SENSE. If life begins at conception, then by definition is starts at conception! This statement is completely nonsensical.

"1. The pro life side claims the zygote/embryo/fetus will become a fully formed human baby because the DNA of the zygote is unique and different from its parents"

No, that's an incomplete claim. THe claim is that the will be a fully formed human being because the DNA is unique and DIPLOID. Gametes are haploid. Not the same at all. You need the diploid number of chromosomes to begin human development. Again, people need to read their basic bio textbooks.

"The fact is that the DNA of the zygote cannot be confirmed to be capable of producing human life. 42 percent of zygotes die due to genetic flaws that do not allow them to live as human life"

The fact that many zygotes die does not mean they weren't alive to begin with. Again, by scientific definition, they were unique human lives. 99% of peopel die before age 120, does that mean they weren't unique human lives? Of course not, because we know what a unique human life IS and they satisfied that criteria. Same is true for zygotes.

This link is more full of stupid than I expected.

someone45 said...

Here are a couple more for you... you will probably not like them either though since they believe woman should have rights over their own body.

LN said...

"you will probably not like them either though since they believe woman should have rights over their own body."

Really? That's what you got from my diploid comment? Couldn't possibly be because it's scientifically inaccurate, parading around as such.

It reminds me of modern christian fundamentalists who use just the minimum amount of scientific terminology to *sound* like they are scientific in an effort to persuade people that evolution is incorrect. They're frauds.

That's how your links are. And when you get called out on it, you strawman your opponent with, "Well you must not like women." And you must have reading comprehension problems. I'm done with you until you learn to respond to what people are actually saying, and learn to back up your claims with facts.

JDC said...

Wow, that is literally the first time I've ever seen anyone other than the guy who started that website cite it.I seriously didn't think I would ever see anyone else bother with his crap. I was wrong.

Vita said...

Great some common ground. So you would support a 24 week abortion ban, with exceptions made for the life of the mother and severe fetal defect, right? Viability is present by at least 24 weeks, and in some cases as early as 21 weeks.

someone45 said...

Yes I would be fine with that as long as there were those exceptions in place. A woman should know by that time if she wants an abortion and if it really is taking her that long to decide maybe an abortion isn't the right choice for her.

someone45 said...

You only back up your claims with anti-choice propaganda.

Anti-choicers don't like women. They don't care what the pregnancy is going to do to the woman's life. The only reason they claim to care about the woman is they want her to bring the pregnancy to term.

M said...

It does, actually.

Unless we are willing to accept that human beings start their existence as non-human-somethings that magically become human at weeks, your statement can only be wrong.

I am not sure what kind of metaphysical or religious belief you profess regarding the beginning of human life, but science does not quite work that way. Living, human organisms do not start as non-human organisms and just magically become human when an adult human wants them to. Trust me, that just does not happen.

M said...

Neither is a newborn baby. Or a 2-year-old kid. Or an 8-year-old kid. Or a 15-year-old teenager.

The circulatory system does not complete its development until the 1st week after birth. The foramen ovale (a structure that remains open during prenatal life) will not close until the very moment of birth. The ductus arteriosus will not obliterate until the 1st week after birth.

Myelinization of the peripheric nerves is not complete until the 2nd year after birth. The connections of the pre-frontal cortex will not be fully mature until early 20's.

The lungs will not complete their development until the 8th year after birth.

To assume that human beigns fulfill their development at the moment of birth - that is rather simplistic, not to mention inaccurate.

If the next comment will be about denying the humanity of little kids and teenagers because they are not yet fully developed, this is far more serious than I had previously thought.

Also, it is very important to note that a pregnancy is considered to have been carried to term when the baby is born between 37 and 41 weeks of gestational age. To say that only a pregnancy carried to term is viable can only spring from a serious lack of information. Preterm babies up to 24 weeks are viable now-a-days, thanks to the astounding advances in neonatal care.

I do recommend that you perform some serious research before making such pseudoscientifical statements.

M said...

You realize that this is exactly what happens to parents of already-born babies, right?

They are entirely dependant on someone else physically, mentally, emotionally and financially. Parents - not only mothers but parents (I really do not know why you insist on putting the whole reponsibility on the mother) - do have to make physical and mental efforts to care for their newborn children. They have to provide for them, feed them, change their diapers for them, care for them when they're sick. They have to make financial sacrifices for these already-born children of theirs.

someone45 said...

But none of those require the use of someone's body and life to sustain their existence. They are able to live independent of another person's body.

I am aware that carried to term means carrying for the full term...

M said...

I admire you for even taking the time to read and quote that laughable excuse of a pseudoscientifical website.

someone45 said...

The parents of the already born babies want the child. They don't mind giving up all of the things I mentioned because it is worth it to them.

A woman with an unwanted pregnancy does not want it so the suffering she is going through is not worth it to her because all she is going to get out of it is more suffering.

someone45 said...

I have actually seen people quote that website more than once. Maybe you don't see it more because you mostly stay on anti-choice type websites...(at least I am assuming you do)

M said...

Well, let us be honest here: you do not even know when a pregnancy begins, you lack the most elemental knowledge about modern embryology and developmental biology, and the most you can answer to someone else's explanations is to cry "anti-choicer!" - exactly how are you supposed to know what a pregnancy (that is, an entirely physiological process in the human species) may or may not cause to a woman?

Believe it or not, women are not some crippled, feeble-minded weaklings that are unable to succesfully pursue their professional and personal ambitions while raising a child, nor it is acceptable or even natural that they are left all alone with the responsibility of a child that did not spring by spontaneous generation or parthenogenesis inside her uterus, but was made by both a woman and a man.

Though I am not really surprised, since this is a constant finding among pro-abortion comments, it is still quite disgusting: you did not mention the responsibility of the father, not even once. All you have been whining about is why women cannot be left all alone as if they were the only ones responsible for unintended pregnancies.

Not cool.

someone45 said...

I wasn't aware that men got pregnant or had pregnancy symptoms... maybe that is why i didn't mention them at all.

Chaoticblu said...

Here here! I am so tired of 'us' being accused that we don't care about women, when the pro choice movement doesn't even focus on the child (from what I have experienced) even though they claim they support a women keeping them as well. Why does anyone have to die? Why can't we all work together for better support for unexpected pregnancy, rape victims and their families, and supporting adoption and foster care (by helping these places have the things they need to do their jobs as well as encouraging adoption.) It gets so frustrating being at odds with people who accuse us of the same things over and over. I hope this blog is read by many people and taken to heart and passed on. Thank you Ms. Terzo for sharing this and thank you SPL for reblogging.

Chaoticblu said...

I believe you are differentiating between 'having a life' and 'being alive.' Which is fine-sort of- but it may confuse some people. The smallest organism that can exhibit all signs of life is a single cell, therefor an embryo -in this case human- is alive and continues to be so as it divides and develops, until something happens to cause that life to end, such as death of the human from old age , or abortion while they are still in an early stage in the womb. I feel you are using "having a life" to mean "having an independent life outside the women's body. If so you might want to clarify that.

Michelle Ewing said...


You intentions seem good, and I do like the fact that you think elective abortion shouldn't be allowed after viability.

I am pro-life, but I think before we even try and change laws, we need work on making all choices more or less equal. Women should be talked to about ALL their options.
we scare kids away from parenting and adoption was birth videos, and even simulate what it's like to take care of a baby, but in sex ed, we don't talk about abortion, what if we showed abortion videos and tried to simulate how difficult of a choice abortion really is? It's just not treated the same way as parenthood.

Maybe if it was $500 to adopt a baby (same price as most abortions) it would level that out a bit.

Then if individuals donated money to non-profits to help support families in need, all choices would be more or less equal.

I'm all for choices, but I think it would be nice to see choices that are able to compete with a cheep, life ending, and many times harmful to the mother, choice.

Pro -life is pro women, never have I heard of a pro-choice group throwing a community baby shower, or giving women post abortive consoling. I also have never heard a woman say she regrets giving birth.

Chaoticblu said...

I understand it is originally against their will (because some do consent to carry to term) in the case of rape, however I believe consensual sex is a sort of grey area as when you have sex , if you are fairly educated you know contraception can fail so unless you are sterile/barren there is always a slight change of pregnancy. Where do you feel the couple's responsible lie in that situation?

Personally I think it is unfair to risk bringing a new life into this world and not letting them continue it. I am not trying to push abstinence, (people should just have sex when they feel they are emotionally ready) and I still support condoms (can't really say anything about hormonal bc currently) as they really CAN reduce pregnancy by preventing fertilization) but I feel people should still be prepared for an unplanned pregnancy and have sex responsibly.

To me that means not doing that to a new life, creating them only to end their life. That may mean abstinence for some, being with a good supportive partner who you would be ok having children with for another, or just being financially stable or emotionally ok with giving the child up for adoption. Whatever works for that couple/women/ that doesn't' involve death of the new life. I feel that is reasonable but am open to hearing other thoughts/ideas.

I discussed this with one pro choice person once who insisted that even with consensual sex a women had no obligation to carry her child. I wonder if that is a popular pro choice perspective? And if so, why? It makes it seem no one should be responsible for their actions ever.

Chaoticblu said...

Not trying to be mean or antagonize, but I've seen you're other posts as you know and you always seem to make pregnancy sound like some terrible disease. It's fine if you or anyone doesn't want a family and hates the idea of being pregnant but I am curious as to why this is? Forgive me if you've answered this in one of my other posts, I haven't gone through all my replies yet.

someone45 said...

Yeah I am guessing you are right. That is how I refer to it when I am on pro-choice boards and how everyone there refers to it.

Since most of the people here think differently I guess I do need to clarify.

someone45 said...

I see it that way because for one I have had insomnia before that was so bad I don't know how I didn't die in a car wreck and having to experience nine months of that sounds like the worst thing ever.

I have also helped to take care of several friends when they were pregnant. They were so sick they couldn't get out of bed for days at a time.

I also see facebook posts from women who are pregnant. They decide to share way to much information and what they do share makes pregnancy sound like it is no fun at all.

someone45 said...

I agree a woman should be given information on all her options. I also think that she should be allowed to make her choice though after thinking about the information she has.

someone45 said...

I feel if a couple is using birth control ( if they don't want kids they should use more than one method) they are doing there part to try to prevent the pregnancy. They should not have to experience an unwanted pregnancy because they were the unlucky 1% who had the birth control fail.

I do agree that sex is not a contract for pregnancy.
Sex is important in relationships. If a couple was going to go without it forever or a very long time there is a chance that relationship would not last.

Chaoticblu said...

Thanks you for sharing. I've heard every women experiences pregnancy differently and I think it's just one of those things you don't know how it will be till it happens. I sympathize with my friends and anyone who have had uncomfortable ones. I know some people who do not want kids and that is totally fine, they are free to get permanent birth control. I also hope we can develop better birth control methods focusing on fertilization prevention so as not to harm embryos.

Unfortunalty the problem is more with non consensual sex. Obviously someone doesn't plan for that to happen so there would be no reason for them getting permanent birth control if they actually did want children at some point. It's certainly not fair for a women to go through discomfort she didn't ask for or anticipate. However, sometimes we have to do things that don't seem or simply are not fair for the greater good.

I mean, we ask men and women to give their lives to defend our country, sure most of it is voluntary but who knows when another draft could happen? But those that volunteer understand it's for the greater good, and I know we will disagree on this but that's how I see ending abortion. I see the outcome: giving the right to life to all human beings regardless of stage of development-a greater good worth fighting for and worth some suffering, even my own if that were the case.

And it's fine you don't agree and I understand better now why you don't feel a women should have to go through with a pregnancy, but I'm seeing a bigger picture-a society and country changing picture and I just hope you can at least get where some of us are coming from just as I get where you are coming from now. I do hope we can work towards alleviating pregnancy discomfort though- I myself haven't had a pregnancy yet but I frequently get insomnia and it really can be horrible "nights of hell" I call them. I do hope we can work on that to, and just alleviate suffering all around. While sometimes I think suffering is necessarily to cause change unfortunately, I certainly don't want people to suffer if we can help it.

Michelle Ewing said...

Should there be a required amount of time she should have to think about the choice she will make? Should we require all options to be presented in full factual detail? Are you for dropping the abortion rate? Do you feel that families should have more help adopting and parenting?

If yes, maybe you are pro- life. This is what the pro- life movement aims to accomplish. Pro choicers don't agree on religion, when life begins (philosophically), showing women her options, and much more. So why can't pro lifers disagree?

Either way, there is a lot of common ground we could, (and should) work together on.

Chaoticblu said...

I don't disagree that sex is a pleasurable and intimate act. I'm not sure most relationships would fail without it though. Perhaps new relationships but there are many people that can no longer engage in sex for various age/health related reasons. As I said, by all means enjoy as long as you enjoy responsibly (though we cleaerly have different ideas on what that constitutes, though we seem to be on the same page with birth control). Thank you for sharing your opinion, and I agree 2 forms of birth control is probably a good idea if you are really adamant about not getting pregnant.(Though I'm iffy on some methods but am hearing new research on them that seems hopeful and possible more pro life friendly)

It seem when you get down to it though, most pro choice and pro life people are going to continue to butt heads on the issue of responsibility to the unplanned pregnancy, and whether or not sex is more important than saving a potential human life. I guess it comes back to whether one values a zygote,embryo/fetus/unborn etc as an individual human life deserving of rights. That seems to be the core of it all.

I really hope with birth control progress this will no longer be an issue. But again thanks for sharing your opinion, it helps clarify and confirm what seem to be some general and consistant pro choice views.

KB said...

Just to play devil's advocate, correlation does not imply causation. Do post-abortive have more suicides, or are suicidal women more likely to abort?

I do think the psychological trauma that stays with the women I know who are post-abortive, is not well discussed, but I'm the first person to admit that what they feel is not what every woman feels, and maybe not even a majority. When we culturally dehumanize a group of people, most people will go along with that. Pretty sure there wasn't a raging suicide/ depression epidemic going on with pre-civil war slaver owners.